Essential Oils-Do they work?

Let’s remember my background.  I’ve had seven years of college, including a masters degree in physician assistant studies.  I spent five years working in a clinic/organization that was very heavy into Evidence Based Medicine.  What that means is that I am a skeptic.  When I hear about new drugs I don’t prescribe them unless a patient specifically asks for a drug by name.  Why?  Because there are tons of old, proven, cheap drugs that work for many ailments/diseases/conditions.  So when I first started hearing about essential oils, I didn’t get excited.  I really didn’t even care to know about them.  Sounds like hocus pocus to me.

Fast forward a few years.  More and more patients have been telling me they have tried essential oils for different issues.  “That is nice” I thought.  As I heard more and more about these oils, I thought maybe I should research this a little bit more since so many patients are using them.  I’m often telling patients how  powerful plants can be in our diet.  Could the oil of the plant be powerful too?

Remember our hay gathering?  Well, that escapade resulted in chigger bites for hubby and I.  Annoying, itchy chigger bites.  In places you don’t want to scratch in public.  We visited family for the fourth of July and a family member noticed me scratching some bites on my arm.  She offered some lavender oil.  “Ha!”, I said.  “I’ve heard about these oils!  I’ll just do a little test”.  So I put the oil and two of my bites and none of the others.  Um.  You know what?  They worked.  Within about ten seconds the itching stopped.  I didn’t apply any more oil to any bites nor did I add any more oil to the original two bites.  All night and the next day the untreated bites irritated me.  The treated bites didn’t itch again.  Hubby had also treated his bites with the lavender oil and he reported it worked for him too.  My intrigue increased and I asked an old pal who sells prolific amounts of oil to teach me more possible uses.

I can attest to the following:

1)Panaway oil has helped my mother’s knee pain that has bothered her for years.  She is a skeptic, so if she says it works, it works.One day I had a back ache and it helped me too.  Another friend tried it for plantar faciitis and said it did not help.

2) Peppermint oil has taken away a headache for me.  I just rubbed a drop behind each ear and within about 15 minutes the headache was gone.  I’ve given the oil to five others with a headache.  3 got relief like I did.  2 did not.

3) The RC oil is for respiratory issues. A friend has a daughter with asthma.  She was giving her nebulizer treatments three times a day.  She took a sample of RC oil home.  The next day she texted that the wheezing had stopped and her daughter hadn’t needed albuterol all day long after rubbing the oil on her chest.  Hubby has had success with RC helping with sinus congestion.  Another friend had success with RC and her chest congestion.

4) Purification oil can repel mosquitos.  I went into the woods without oil and was swatting the bugs right and left.  I remembered I had Purification oil and rubbed it on my ankles, wrists, and the back of my neck.  I really didn’t have to swat at the bugs anymore.  They left me alone.

I don’t know how much of it is placebo effect.  Do we care if it is placebo and it helps?  I don’t.  Are there any peer reviewed double blinded control studies on essential oils?  I haven’t found one yet.   While we await evidence, it is fun to experiment and do case studies.  If you want to try an oil for a specific problem, let me know.  I’ll get a sample to you and you can try it for yourself.  If it doesn’t help, no harm done.  From my research, I am currently concluding that essential oils have some benefit for some people for some problems. They aren’t the end all for every problem for everybody. (Only Jesus can do that).